Our safety campaigns

Last year 19 people died in recreational boating accidents on New Zealand waters. Research shows that not wearing a lifejacket is the leading risk factor, and other key risks include: not carrying communications, not checking the weather, and drinking alcohol.

Our safety campaigns aim to reduce the number of fatalities on our waters.

The Boating Safety Code

The Boating Safety Code contains our key safety messages (see right). Research shows that these are the five most important things you can do to reduce your odds of having a fatal accident on the water. They’ve been agreed on by water safety organisations nationwide – and they’re reflected in all of our safety campaigns.

2018-19 safety campaign

Our 2018-19 safety campaign reinforces the messages in the Boating Safety Code. It consists of two phases: Safer Boating Week to kick off the summer boating season, and “Nobody’s faster than disaster” to help keep key messages top of mind throughout the season.

More about our campaign

Safer Boating Week (12-19 October 2018)

Safer Boating Week marks the start of the boating season (Labour Day weekend) and involves a mixture of fun and serious events organised by agencies around the country.

The theme: “Prep, Check, Know”

The week’s events are based around “Prep, Check, Know” – simple safety reminders for boaties to keep in mind as they gear up for the season ahead.

Prepare your boat - get your boat serviced, replace fuel, check batteries, give your boat a really good once over and check for damage or corrosion.

Maritime New Zealand ©2016

Check your gear - check your lifejackets regularly and make sure they fit well, check gas canisters on inflatable jackets and expiry dates on distress beacons and flares, check batteries, and make sure you have two reliable ways to call for help (including a VHF radio) that will work when wet.

Maritime New Zealand ©2016

Know the rules - as well as making sure skippers know the rules of the road on the water, check the bylaws for the region you are in. Bylaw information is available on regional council websites, or smartphone users can access it via the MarineMate app.

Maritime New Zealand ©2016

The focus

This year the focus will be check + wear your lifejackets - because the only way to know your lifejacket is safe is to check it regularly.

Read more about lifejackets

“Nobody’s Faster Than Disaster” (20 Oct ‘18 – 31 March ‘19)

The next part of our safety campaign runs from the end of Safer Boating Week until the end of the boating season.

The theme: “Nobody’s faster than disaster”

Continuing on from last year, the theme for the 2018-19 summer boating campaign is “Nobody’s faster than disaster”. The campaign encourages boaties to take simple steps to help keep themselves, their friends and loved ones safer.

The focus

This year’s messaging focuses on maintaining good lifejacket behaviour and increasing the use of maritime VHF radio.


National TV advertising at the peak of the season (December to February) will promote the importance of carrying a waterproof VHF radio.

Online advertising, social media, media releases and boating activities around the country will promote both the use of VHF radios and the need to check lifejackets.

“No Excuses” campaign

Our summer boating campaign also includes a “No excuses” enforcement campaign for boaties not carrying a lifejacket and those who speed on the water. Boaties who break council’s lifejacket and speed rules will be given infringement notices of up to $300, depending on each council’s existing bylaws.

Successfully trialed last summer, “No excuses” will run for five days by each participating council (most regional councils are involved) between 1 October 2018 and 31 March 2019. Maritime NZ has funded the councils to provide additional staff, time and resources to the campaign, on top of the safer boating work councils already do. During the campaign, harbourmaster’s staff and Maritime NZ’s maritime officers will be working together on the water.

New Zealand Safer Boating Forum

The Safer Boating Forum is a network of national and regional government agencies, local body groups, organisations and the marine industry, involved in promoting recreational boating safety in New Zealand. The forum’s members work together to build national awareness, encourage community engagement and share safety messages.

Maritime NZ leads the forum and helps to coordinate safer boating activities.

More about the New Zealand Safer Boating Forum

The Safer Boating guide covers essential information for recreational boaties on the sea, river and lakes of New Zealand.

Safer Boating Guide

This booklet gives you essential information for an enjoyable and safe time on the water.

[PDF: 3.87MB, 13 pages]